When we get to the end of the starting pitchers list we are invariably looking at two kinds of pitchers. The first kind are the productive veterans that will never make an all-star team or win the Cy Young Award, but they consistently produce decent numbers. These pitchers can be a godsend for your team, but you can’t afford to have a staff of them. You have to have some dominant pitchers and you have to take some fliers on some guys that could take the next step.
That brings us to the next group of starting pitchers. These are pitchers that for whatever reason have not cleared the hurdle yet into productivity. However, you can see it on the horizon. We are only profiling 60 pitchers, so there are plenty of guys that haven’t made this list, but could find their way on the roster under the right circumstances. As circumstances change we can revisit some of those guys.
For those joining us for the first time, welcome. We are ranking players according to total points and how they rank in the four traditional categories. We are taking both numbers over the past three seasons and projecting them to a season over either 150 or 180 innings depending on their health history. As we did this last time, rankings were based on how pitchers ranked amongst the last 24 pitchers profiled. They may have ranked better than some of the top 40 pitchers, but ranking them amongst the final group was considerably easier and cleaner.
Total Points = (2) INN + (3) Wins + SO – ER – Hits – BB
Tanner Roark—Cincinnati Reds
Points: 772 (1st)
PPS: 8.30 (6th)
Projection: 12 Wins/3.90 ERA/153 SO/1.26 WHIP (2nd)
Teams win and teams lose largely because of inefficiency. The Nationals dealt Roark likely because they didn’t want to pay his increasing salary. So, they turned around and signed Anibal Sanchez to a sizeable contract. Notice that Sanchez is not part of this list. They jumped at recent success, but over a longer timeline Roark is the better pitcher.
Danny Duffy—Kansas City Royals
Points: 672 (5th)
PPS: 8.62 (4th)
Projection: 11 Wins/4.04 ERA/172 SO/1.29 WHIP (6th)
When we get to this point on the list we notice that everyone is deficient one way or another. In Duffy’s case, he is not quite as dominant as you might like. Yet, if put in the right situation he could flourish. Traditionalists would focus on run support and bullpen support, but we can’t sleep on the effect that the defense behind the pitcher has. Please free him from Kansas City.
Collin McHugh—Houston Astros
Points: 507 (14th)
PPS: 11.27 (1st)
Projection: 11 Wins/3.66 ERA/156 SO/1.28 WHIP (1st)
McHugh is projected at 150 innings and if he gets that many it would make the Astros favorites for the AL West again. He spent last year in the bullpen, so it is questionable as to whether he will have the endurance to get here. He did win 19 games once upon a time, so he is a great fourth or fifth starter in a real or fantasy rotation.
Jhouyls Chacin—Milwaukee Brewers
Points: 673 (4th)
PPS: 8.01 (10th)
Projection: 12 Wins/4.00 ERA/149 SO/1.28 WHIP (7th)
The Brewers just signed the best pitch framer in the business in Yasmani Grandal. That is bound to have an effect on pitchers like Chacin. The difference between a 2-1 count and 1-2 count is huge. Is it enough to vault Chacin to an all-star game? Probably not. He doesn’t miss enough bats, but he could be a solid fourth fantasy starter.
Dylan Bundy—Baltimore Orioles
Points: 606 (7th)
PPS: 8.30 (6th)
Projection: 12 Wins/4.65 ERA/176 SO/1.32 WHIP (9th)
Bundy is another Danny Duffy. Both the Royals and Orioles will be terrible. Placing him here is a reasonable bet that he will wear a different uniform at some point in 2019. He started off strong last season and faded just as the rest of the team did. I suppose human nature takes over at some point.
Jake Odorizzi—Minnesota Twins
Points: 688 (3rd)
PPS: 7.40 (16th)
Projection: 10 Wins/3.91 ERA/165 SO/1.26 WHIP (5th)
The Twins were second in the Central, but with two 100+ loss teams that really isn’t all special. The upshot is that the path back to competitiveness is not as long as it might seem. They have taken a couple of steps forward on paper while the Indians have taken steps back. Who knows might happen.
Jose Berrios—Minnesota Twins
Points: 564 (11th)
PPS: 7.94 (11th)
Projection: 13 Wins/4.48 ERA/177 SO/1.28 WHIP (4th)
Berrios had only a cup of coffee in 2016, but it was like Folgers. Those numbers are driving up the overall averages in ERA and WHIP to make him look more ordinary than he has been. Still, he was a little worse in 2018 than in 2017, so it probably reflects the slippage we are seeing.
Ervin Santana—Free Agent
Points: 577 (10th)
PPS: 8.49 (5th)
Projection: 8 Wins/3.57 ERA/118 SO/1.19 WHIP (11th)
How weird to have three Twins in a row. A healthy Santana would have ranked higher and made the Twins 2018 a little more palatable. Sadly, the fantasy world and real world conspire to keep the injured on the backburner. Someone will take a flier on Santana and probably be pretty happy they did.
Jack Flaherty—St. Louis Cardinals
Points: 299 (24th)
PPS: 9.06 (3rd)
Projection: 8 Wins/3.72 ERA/211 SO/1.16 WHIP (3rd)
Everyone has their own story and a reason why they wind up on the island of misfit toys. For Flaherty it is the inexplicable reason he became a late bloomer. Do you buy into one sudden season of success? These guys often turn into pumpkins far more often than they stick, but he missed a lot of bats, so maybe there is hope.
Lance Lynn—Texas Rangers
Points: 695 (2nd)
PPS: 7.47 (14th)
Projection: 10 Wins/3.70 ERA/139 SO/1.37 WHIP (16th)
A lot of jokes could be made about the Rangers approach to building a pitching staff. Why sign two quality starters when five or six mediocre ones will do? The closest analogy would be the Jake Taylor approach. In the movie Major League, the manager asks whether Taylor was an all-star in Boston. Sure, but that was four years ago. Throw Lynn, Shelby Miller and everyone else in a box and you get the pitching versions of Jake Taylor.
C.C. Sabathia—New York Yankees
Points: 642 (6th)
PPS: 7.47 (14th)
Projection: 10 Wins/3.76 ERA/128 SO/1.30 WHIP (12th)
Getting old is no laughing matter. Sabathia wound up in the hospital with heart problems this offseason. That’s not something you usually see from an athlete in their prime, but Sabathia hasn’t been close to that in more than five seasons. He has been a crafty veteran that is more than adequate as fifth starter. He might be better as a waiver wire pick up.
Kyle Freeland—Colorado Rockies
Points: 461 (18th)
PPS: 7.56 (13th)
Projection: 14 Wins/3.39 ERA/141 SO/1.35 WHIP (8th)
Freeland really only has two seasons, so the total points is skewed towards those with three full seasons. Maybe he breaks into the top 40 next season. Unfortunately, pitchers that don’t miss bats don’t tend to do well in Coors Field. He will have plenty of run support, so he should win more games than the average starter. That makes him viable.
Ivan Nova—Chicago White Sox
Points: 604 (8th)
PPS: 7.02 (22nd)
Projection: 11 Wins/4.16 ERA/131 SO/1.27 WHIP (10th)
Nova is a solid pitcher that every team would love to have in their rotation. In Chicago he will be a number two or three starter. That’s probably a bit above his pay grade, but he will give the White Sox quality innings. If he’s the last guy in your fantasy rotation you will be just fine.
Zack Wheeler—New York Mets
Points: 374 (21st)
PPS: 8.13 (9th)
Projection: 9 Wins/3.99 ERA/148 SO/1.30 WHIP (13th)
Hard to believe the Mets traded Carlos Beltran for him. That seems like yesterday. If Wheeler can give you 30 starts he is better than these projections. Somehow, everything in New York comes down to health.
Jonathan Gray—Colorado Rockies
Points: 511 (12th)
PPS: 7.10 (17th)
Projection: 11 Wins/4.49 ERA/159 SO/1.35 WHIP (14th)
Pitchers in Denver should be in their whole own category. Of course, we would then have to put hitters in their own category. Gray is a better pitcher than this, but power pitchers have their difficulties in that thin air. He has been getting progressively better each season, so betting the over might be wise.
Trevor Cahill—Los Angeles Angels
Points: 353 (22nd)
PPS: 10.09 (2nd)
Projection: 9 Wins/3.89 ERA/147 SO/1.36 WHIP (21st)
The Athletics achieved the impossible when they forged a rotation around Cahill, Edwin Jackson, and Mike Fiers. Notice that only FIers is back. That is the difference between good organizations like the Athletics and ones that spin their wheels like the Angels. There is a difference between taking a flier and then paying that flier good money for catching lightening in a bottle.
Andrew Heaney—Los Angeles Angels
Points: 295 (25th)
PPS: 8.19 (8th)
Projection: 7 Wins/4.52 ERA/155 SO/1.25 WHIP (16th)
When healthy Heaney is a quality pitcher. A lot next year rests on health for the Angels. Heaney is not bad for a late round flier. Most fantasy players carry six or seven starting pitchers and simply shuttle them in and out to build innings. If that is your strategy then Heaney isn’t a bad pick.
Nathan Eovaldi—Boston Red Sox
Points: 489 (16th)
PPS: 7.09 (18th)
Projection: 11 Wins/4.27 ERA/123 SO/1.31 WHIP (16th)
I promise that I let the computer spit out the numbers and then make the rankings accordingly. I really don’t dislike Eovaldi, but I don’t get all the hype. Well, that’s not true. It’s hard not to look at his velocity and split finger and wonder how he doesn’t dominate every time out. However, sooner or later you have to accept what is there.
Carlos Rodon—Chicago White Sox
Points: 456 (19th)
PPS: 7.60 (12th)
Projection: 7 Wins/4.11 ERA/141 SO/1.34 WHIP (22nd)
Rodon looks like a star waiting to happen. In sometimes takes pitchers a few seasons to figure things out and then they only last a few more seasons after that. Gambling players would do well to take a late round flier on this guy. He is the kind of player that could take two or three steps forward overnight.
Sonny Gray—New York Yankees
Points: 503 (15th)
PPS: 6.99 (23rd)
Projection: 11 Wins/4.60 ERA/163 SO/1.35 WHIP (15th)
Take a long look at that ERA and realize he had an ERA under 3.20 last season on the road. The Yankees are bound to deal Gray as soon as they realize they have no spot for him and won’t get a king’s ransom. They can a useful prospect or two and Gray will get to go to a team where he will almost certainly pitch better.